Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson - REVIEWED

About the book: 
The Golden Braid
 (Thomas Nelson, November 2015)

The one who needs rescuing isn't always the one in the tower...

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel's hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again---this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight---Sir Gerek---Rapunzel, in turn, rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to him than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?

As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery are about to be revealed after seventeen years. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?

Purchase you copy HERE!

My Thoughts:So you see, a man can lover you, but only imperfectly.  It is God alone who can be God.” (p. 285)

What an amazing truth found within the pages of a fairy-tale retelling of Rapunzel!   This is my first encounter with Melanie Dickerson’s Medieval Fairy tales!  I am hooked!  I would have never imagined a tale with such compelling characters and such sound and solid faith as their anchor!  From Rapunzel to Gerek the knight, and from Gothel to Lady Rose, every character in this book is believably flawed and perfectly sound!  You will find yourself relating to the fear of one and the bravery of another.  You will be afraid during an attack of villains and you will cheer at Rapunzel’s tireless pursuit of knowledge and personal growth – in spite of all of her challenges!

This book was a delightful escape with a depth that amazed me.  I was pleasantly surprised when Gerek chose to use God’s Word to teach Rapunzel to read.  (not unusual, but so delightful!)  And to see each of them falter in their ability to believe that love was everything they dreamed it could be and more!  I’m telling you now, that THIS is a fairy-tale that is not a fairy-tale!

I am so excited to recommend this book to everyone!! And I have to go back and find the other books in this series!! I’m enchanted!!

About the Author:

Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer's Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader's Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Connect with Melanie: websiteTwitter,Facebook, YouTube

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart - REVIEWED

About the Book:

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it’s already too late.

My Thoughts:
Gotta have faith.  Gotta trust.  Gotta hold onto the evidence of thing not yet seen.  I might have figured out the important thins later in life that I wanted to, but I’ve got ‘em in my back pocket now.”  (p.315)

It is truly an amazing thing to fully surrender to the living God.”  (p. 377)

James Rubart leads readers to these truths as only he can lead as a writer.  He uses the concept of Lucid Dreaming as a vehicle to deliver a life changing tale!  Truly, this story may center around Brock Matthews and his falling apart life, but by the time you reach the end of the story, you will understand a far deeper and greater truth about a life that pleases God.  About the freedom that comes when we surrender our lives to our Creator and break free from the thought that life is just the sum total of our good and bad choices.  Freedom comes with surrender, and that is what Brock Matthews learns as he journeys back and forth between present reality and the lucidity of dreams that focus on past choices.

I don’t think there is a person alive that wouldn’t change some of their life choices if given an opportunity to view the outcome through the lens of long term consequences.  But the truth is, even if we make bad choices and face unpleasant circumstance as a result of those choices, God can still redeem our lives in significant ways that brings us good and Him glory. 

This IS a story of redemption in its truest sense!  The vehicle of the delivery of this truth may seem a bit fanstastical, but in its context, it echoes a reality that we each face at some point in our lives.  My most honest response?  AMEN!! And AMEN!! And AMEN!!  I’ve lived this redemption out in my own life very recently, and, once again, God’s timing with this story is so much more than amazing!!  ENJOY!!

About the Author:
James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling novel Rooms as well as Book of DaysThe Chair, Soul's Gate, Memory'Door, and Spirit Bridge. He lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest. Website: www.jameslrubart.com Twitter: @jameslrubart Facebook: JamesLRubart

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saints and Strangers - a National Geographic event remembering the First Thanksgiving - REVIEWED

Make plans to watch this!

I was blessed to receive a review copy of this two-night National Geographic event that chronicles the Plymouth settlement through the first Thanksgiving.  WHAT A JOURNEY!!!  You will be given a realistic look into the lives of the Saints and Strangers that traveled across the ocean and founded Plymouth colony.  It is filled with well-developed characters and a fabulous and realistic Native American cast!

The people who came to America's shores by way of the Mayflower should be remembered for their sacrifice and their bravery!  This two-night television drama captures their experiences in a way that will  cement this in your heart and mind.  You won't soon forget this initial contact that the English have with the Native Americans!

I know I have gained a greater respect for these pilgrims as well as the Native Americans whom they encountered.  I've also been given a renewed thirst for knowledge of the events leading up to the first Thanksgiving.  To say there was much to be thankful for is a severe understatement!!  This is a television event I hope will become an annual commemoration of our founding fathers!

This is a most excellent film!! I HIGHLY recommend that you mark November 22 and 23rd on your calendar and make time to experience this two night event!! You will be VERY GLAD you did!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hand-Me-Down Princess by Carol Moncado - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

About The Book:
Prince Malachi Van Renssalaer of Mevendia is getting married. The problem? He’s never even met his bride. His father arranged everything, right down to the marriage contract. Malachi swears to himself that he will be nothing like his father in the ways that count - including his fidelity to his wife. 

Jessabelle Keller would happily spend her entire life in obscurity, but her father once saved the life of a future king. Before he dies, her father is committed to seeing that king make good on his promise to have one of his sons marry her so she would be taken care of for life. 

No sooner than Prince Malachi and Jessabelle return from their honeymoon, they find themselves dealing with both private trauma and the very public drama of groundless accusations from the press. Just as they begin to weave their fragile trust back together, a ghost from the king’s past arrives and threatens everything they’ve ever held dear. 

Secrets have a funny way of coming out and this one could rip the faith of the country in their leaders to shreds. Malachi is determined to protect Jessabelle no matter what it takes, but will it ever be enough for her to not feel like a Hand-Me-Down Princess?

My Thoughts:
You have value because you are a child of the King.  Your worth has to come from Him, not in your title or statue here on earth.”  (p.  234)

Prince Malachi is a treasure beyond measure!  The tender way he treats his arranged bride from the moment they arrive in their honeymoon accommodations to the last page of this novel is touching and amazing!  Both he and his bride, Jessabelle, find themselves in an arranged marriage, and neither of them are quite sure what that should look like on the inside.  Their character comes to light beautifully as they navigate their royal obligations, and their relationship begins to blossom.

However, there are some serious skeletons that fall out of the royal closet just about the time you think this thrown together couple has a chance of making a real go of their marriage.  What I found fascinating was that their reaction to the devastating news they receive places them exactly where they need to be to receive the truth of their relationship with Christ and with each other!  I loved the ending especially for that reason alone!

This is a modern day royal romance with some very transparent and day to day faith messages woven within the story line.  No family is perfect.  No faith – no matter how small – is too small for God to work miracles in the hearts of His children!  All of us find our identity in Christ alone.  From that identity, we can weather life’s unexpected storms with royal grace!  LOVE THIS BOOK!  It took me totally by surprise!!

About the Author:
When she's not writing about her imaginary friends, Carol Moncado is hanging out with her husband, four kids, and a dog who weighs less than most hard cover books. She prefers watching NCIS to just about anything, except maybe watching Castle. She believes peanut butter M&Ms are the perfect food and Dr. Pepper should come in an IV. When not watching her kids - and the dog - race around her big backyard in Southwest Missouri, she's teaching American Government at a local community college. She's a founding member and President of MozArks ACFW, category coordinator for First Impressions, blogger at InspyRomance, and represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ishtar's Odyssey - by Arnold Ytreeide - REVIEWED

About the Book:
A new Advent family devotional from the author of Jotham's Journey! Fourth in a set of Advent adventure books for families, Ishtar's Odyssey follows the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man as their caravan follows a star across the desert. Ishtar would just as soon stay in the comfort of the palace, but slowly he learns that there's much to see, do, and learn in this world that can't be experienced in school. He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king. 

Arnold Ytreeide's family advent devotionals have become a much-loved Christmas tradition, enjoyed by multiple generations. With over 100,000 in print they include Jotham's JourneyBartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels

My Thoughts:
Advent was not celebrated in the church of my childhood, and not in many of the churches I’ve attended since becoming an adult.  So, for me, an advent devotional was a wealth of knowledge about many things.  Since the story that this advent devotional is based upon – the journey of the magi to see Jesus as they followed His star – was familiar to me, I was equally fascinated with the Persian culture presented in the story.   The food was particularly fascinating!

However, there was much more that food presented.  For instance, Ishtar, only ten-years-old during the journey, learns first-hand about poverty that he never knew existed.  He also learns that there is a right and accepted way to help those less fortunate.  Ishtar also learns what is it like to flee for your life from someone purposefully trying to destroy you just because of your position and identity – much like the King of Kings was the target of King Herod’s wrath!

I simply adored the devotional ending to each day’s reading!  It is targeted to a young audience, but the truths presented are very applicable for adults as well!  This is a treasure trove of history, tradition all based around the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus.  I was completely captivated and wished I still had small children in my life to share this with!  Wait!  I do!  My great niece!  I can’t wait to share this with her!  I highly recommend this to everyone!

About the Author:
Arnold Ytreeide is a fine storyteller who cares deeply about spiritual growth in families. Ytreeide is the founder of Storyteller Productions and lives with his wife and two children in Nampa, Idaho.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson - REVEIWED

About the Book:
Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that's exactly what she's getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix--in the dead of winter, no less--the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off with Joy toward Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride--one that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it's going to be an exciting ride!

My Thoughts:
I guess I just needed to actually do it to know.” (p. 47)

What Miranda learned from her neighbor Joy on their trek from Chicago to Flagstaff.  A Christmas contest on Joy’s blog takes them from family to family – a variety of situations – where life has dealt a heavy hand.  Joy has a unique plan for every individual, and she brings such joy and comfort to each family that, as you read, you begin to understand the joy of giving and sharing your life with those you love.

Melody Carlson brings another touching holiday novella to vivid life, and gives her audience characters that are endearing and real.  This does have a rather “magical” feel to it as far as the ending goes, but hey! It’s Christmas, right!  There are some things that should be a bit magical!  This is a brief, uplifting and unique story that will prepare your heart for the Season of Giving!  Merry Christmas!  And don’t forget to pick up a copy or two for the readers on your Christmas list!  They will love The Christmas Joy Ride!  I know I did!!

About the Author:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas BusThe Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie. She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another GirlAnything but NormalDouble Take, the Life at Kingston High series, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. She is the winner of aRomantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series andFinding Alice. Melody and her husband live in Oregon.

For more information about Melody visit her website at www.melodycarlson.com.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Where you come from isn't who you are 

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma's Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff's family, they've got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They're who the town turns to when there's a crisis or a need--and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on. 

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother's unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn't sure she likes. 

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he's really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won't be the only thing darkening Pearl's world. 

While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl's voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavy-handed. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart. 

My Thoughts:
Every storm has a beginning and every storm’s got and end.  They never last forever.”  (p. 121)

The words from Meemaw’s lips could not have been more prophetic.  Pearl Spence would live through far more than the Dust Bowl within the pages of Susie Finkbeiner’s novel, A Cup of Dust.  Every page of this novel bears the grit of the dust that fills the air in Red River, Oklahoma.  The author’s writing poignantly weaves every detail of Pearl’s family into a beautiful and painful picture of trial that is faced with the strength of love. 

The love that holds the Spence family together is palpable and real.  Their reality is made boldly visible by the trials that they have already overcome before they even bear a hint of the Dust Bowl.  Be that as it may, the trials the lay ahead within the Dust Bowl are particularly brutal.  The reader gets a front row seat when sacrificial love faces off with a twisted, evil version of perceived justice.  It is a battle that rages through the Spence family as violently as any earthly storm.

In the end, the sense of strength and perseverance that is left in your heart and mind is unforgettable.  You will long remember the Spence family – especially Pearl – and the love which endures when everything around them falls apart.  This is truly a special book, and one you won’t want to miss!!

About the Author:
Susie Finkbeiner is a stay-at-home mom, speaker, and author from West Michigan. Her previous books include Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother's Chamomile (2014). She has served as fiction editor and regular contributor to the Burnside Writers Guild and Unbound magazine. Finkbeiner is an avid blogger (see www.susiefinkbeiner.com), is on the planning committee of the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and has presented or led groups of other writers at several conferences.